Peak season for ecommerce retailers is at our doors, incorporating Christmas and January sales plus events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some online shops see an increase of up to 30% of their annual turnover in this quarter 1. In 2021, Black Friday was the top holiday for online shopping across Europe, and 59% of consumers in Europe plan their holiday shopping before November2 . Due to the rising cost of living, however, consumers have less disposable income. It will therefore be critical for retailers to maximise every possible sale, devise successful promotions, ensure inventory is available and delight customers.
This essential guide highlights ways to capitalise on peak season revenue opportunities, examining internal and external factors from delivery models to supply chain resilience.
Research and pre-empt customer behaviour
Retailers should build upon historical sales analysis by tapping into seasonal trends to discover what products are set to be popular and what channels customers are using. They will then be prepared for expectations and demands, such as ethical or sustainable ranges and delivery options including click & collect. Armed with this insight, retailers can improve decision-making regarding stock, logistics and promotions, delighting customers at these profitable times.
Optimise order fulfilment
Efficient and accurate order fulfilment processes are key to effectively managing parcel volumes in busy periods. Warehouses must be ready to accommodate fulfilment during peak season with optimised picking, sorting, packing and shipping processes that scale instantly. Multi-modal voice recognition technology and vision-based technologies, for example, increase operational capacity by enabling more productive utilisation of warehouse associates. This results in faster picking with fewer errors, 100% shipping accuracy and end-to-end parcel tracking.
Improve inventory management and smart in-store management
Research shows that 44% of European shoppers would be more likely to give up their entire shopping basket if one of the items they wanted wasn’t available 3. Successful omni-channel retailing therefore requires 100% stock accuracy and a single view of stock availability throughout the entire network. A real-time inventory intelligence solution empowers retailers to eliminate out of stocks, maximise on-shelf availability, improve the customer experience and maximise margins, which is critical during peak periods.
Investing in best-fit technology and digitalisation enables retailers to maintain a competitive edge in the face of these unprecedented surges, especially as supply chains increase in complexity.
Diversify delivery models
Not only does delivery need to be OTIF (on-time-in full), both B2C and B2B customers expect a range of convenient, and often free, options. Diverse distribution models now include C02-neutral, click & collect, fulfilment from store and contactless (e.g. smart lockers). It is estimated that same day and instant deliveries will reach a combined share of 20-25% of the entire last mile delivery market by 2025 4. Retailers demonstrating commitment to ESG are likely to be valued, since 52% of online shoppers claim to choose to purchase from one online store over another if its environmental impact of the delivery is lower 5 . Retailers can expect high rate of returns along with an increase in ecommerce at peak times, and the returns policy also influences online sales, with 40% of shoppers saying they will not order a product unless the returns period is at least 30 days6
Optimise the last milePoor performance impacts sales, loyalty and reputation: as many as 87% of online shoppers say that delivery time influences their decision to buy again from a store 7. Failed deliveries are expensive for retailers (typically €14.69 per item in Germany and £11.60 in the UK 8) but can be minimised by last mile optimisation. Data aggregation from multiple shippers, carriers and systems through a next-generation ePOD solution drives visibility, increasing delivery capacity, accuracy and providing real-time status updates for customers.
Improve supply chain visibility
Underpinning omni-channel retail success is real-time end-to-end visibility, which can be achieved without overhauling existing systems. A best-of-breed solution integrates and scales easily, giving retailers control through synchronised end-to-end physical and digital process flows. Some 93% of procurement and supply leaders are examining their supply chains, seeking ways to increase resilience9 , collaboration and eliminate silos, and this is even more important as peak season approaches.
Attract seasonal staff early
A positive employee experience helps companies recruit and retain top talent, in order to deliver on customer promises. With labour shortages impacting the supply chain, it’s key to invest in user-friendly technology that easily onboards and engages the transient workforce to perform their roles. Enhancing workers with collaborative automation and digital tools in the warehouse, on the road and in store improves accuracy and efficiency and minimises repetitive manual tasks.
Whilst seasonal peaks are predictable, unforeseen peaks occur throughout the year too. Investing in best-fit technology and digitalisation enables retailers to maintain a competitive edge in the face of these unprecedented surges, especially as supply chains increase in complexity. The best-prepared retailers will optimise sales opportunities cost-effectively and win loyalty.
Control your retail supply chain from warehouse to store
3 OneStock: Omnichannel Study: How retailers can serve the post-Covid shopper
4 couriernews.co.uk/blog/6-trends-in-last-mile-delivery-for-2022 5 2021/2022 E-commerce Delivery Compass 6 www.sendcloud.com/ecommerce-statistics
8 Loqate survey: Fixing Failed Deliveries
9 McKinsey & Co